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Sounds Canadian w/ Joshua X

CD of The Week

Week of 4/20/20

    EOB - Earth (Capitol)

    When it comes to Radiohead solo projects, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have understandably gotten all the attention. Yorke has released multiple electronic-based albums (and of course, he is the frontman) and Greenwood is a former Academy Award nominee who has scored numerous acclaimed films. Meanwhile, their bandmate Ed O'Brien had been quietly working on his own music for years, finally releasing a record under the name EOB.

    O'Brien has always been the glue of Radiohead, backing up Yorke vocally and as their rhythm guitarist. On his debut Earth, O'Brien doesn't head too far out of that comfort zone, making music that feels like the building blocks of bigger Radiohead songs.

    Opener "Shangra-La" moves from a playful bleepy beat and O'Brien's falsetto to going all-in on chugging electric guitars and a catchy chorus. An ode to partying at Glastonbury, O'Brien achieves the transcendence he's looking for in the most conventional rocker on Earth. The delicate folk of "Brasil," a country he and his family lived in for a time, gives way after 3+ minutes to a pulsing beat and turns into a low-key dance song in its second half.

    Much of the album is made up of laid-back acoustic folk-rock tracks such as "Deep Days" and "Long Time Coming." Things pick up with "Banksters," the closest thing to a King of Limbs-style glitchy electro-rock track, but mixed with tropical-sounding guitars. As politicians value the stock market over human lives lately, it's extra timely that O'Brien asks in this track, "Where did all the money go?" and sings about "Wall Street devours / makes you trip / And bidders get another chance / Yeah, you've not a chance." And of course, with an album titled Earth, the health of the planet is on his mind throughout as well.

    "Olympik" starts out sounding like Depeche Mode, then expands over eight minutes into a massive rave, before coming back down as Earth wraps with "Cloak of the Night," a quiet duet with Laura Marling.

    Earth may also surprise listeners who realize that it isn't solely Yorke singing for Radiohead over the years, with O'Brien's range now recognizable in those counter-vocals and harmonies. It turns out O'Brien has a fine voice on his own, which carries Earth through its mellower portions. If you're a Radiohead fan who misses the pre-TKOL era of the band, Earth is a nice place to visit, while we can still live there.
    Review by Joey O.

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